Updated: Jan 18
In this post, we are going to explore the subject of mastermind groups. Does it make you think of some weird combo of Masterchef and a game show? Do you want to know what it has to do with business? Do you want to know how it could benefit you personally as a consultant or entrepreneur and your business? Just keep reading and you will discover what it is, who originated it, how to create one and how to run a successful one.
What is peer-to-peer coaching?
As an entrepreneur or consultant who works alone, you may at times find it a tad lonely and/or isolating to not have like-minded individuals that you can bounce ideas off of. You may at times that it would be useful to have a sounding board or advisor who is not a family member or friend. There are multiple options available out there, for example, executive coaching, counselling, mentoring or peer coaching. In this post, we’ll explore the last of these, which is sometimes referred to as a Master Mind. The exchange of support being reciprocal between peers.
Table 1: Types of Coaching (McDermott, 2011, p. 3)
Mastermind - what is it?
A Master Mind consists of individuals who coordinate their knowledge, experience, expertise, and connections to work together with others in the spirit of reciprocation (Hill, 1925). A Master Mind usually consists of under ten people. Some say eight to ten members is the ideal number while others say six to seven members is optimal. These meetings are usually held between once or twice a month for anywhere from two to three hours. The purpose of these meetings is to offer reciprocal “support, knowledge, advice, perspective and accountability” (Neese, 2002) to fellow group members.
Who started it? The concept originated with Napoleon Hill’s 1925 book titled “Law of Success” and was further expanded upon in his 1937 book titled “Think & Grow Rich”. Though many credit his work for ensuring the growth of the self-help movement and ensuring the success of diverse “gurus” who came after him there are those who claim he was simply a conman or scammer. For the purpose of this post, though, we won’t throw the baby out with the bathwater (i.e. disregard the concept of mastermind group due to the originator of the concept)!
What are the benefits?
The purported benefits of being a member of a mastermind group are as follows: - being part of a business community that is exclusive - you get advice and can provide advice to others - you can more easily collaborate with like-minded individuals - you can extend your business network - you can learn from the experience of your fellow team members - you can promote each other’s businesses - you can benefit from others perspective and therefore think bigger
How to start a Mastermind group
Choose group members from non-competing fields and remember to “make sure they're thoughtful, trustworthy, creative and inspiring. Keep the group small; larger groups tend to lose control, focus, and intimacy” (Neese, 2002). There are fee-paying mastermind groups but remember it’s a bit like a gym membership. People choose two-year gym membership with fees being drawn automatically monthly. They intend to work out three times a week. In the beginning, they do but in the long-term, they give up and are usually too lazy to go through the rigmarole of cancelling their membership. Moral of the story? Commitment, reliability, and thoughtfulness mean more than imposing a membership fee.
Having a Purpose
There must be a goal for these meetings, and it must bring value to all members of the group. The purpose should be along the lines of sharing individual business goals, exploring the progress you’ve made in your individuals’ businesses, discussing new challenges your facing in your businesses and developing action plans to resolve those challenges. This is not for lazy, egocentric or grandstanding individuals because all members should have an equal amount of time to speak and contribute to the conversation. This can be ensured by having a rotating roster of facilitators for each meeting.
By talking with others about their individual business members can more readily recognise what potential blockages there may to them achieving their business goals. They may find it easier to answer the following question: - What are the limiting factors? Is it finances? Strategy? Advertising? - What are your self-limiting beliefs? Example, are you inflexible? A black and white thinker? - What are the obstacles between your current and ideal business states?
Armed with this information individuals are surrounded by members who will ensure they remain responsible and answerable to fixing the problems they face and implementing the suggested solutions.
How to run a Mastermind group
Running a mastermind group has three phases: setting an agenda, running mastermind meetings and post-meeting follow-up. Each phase has its importance and must be carefully executed in order to ensure the best chance of success.
Set a meeting agenda
Deciding the direction, the meeting will take, ensuring that each member has an equal opportunity to participate and that discussions don’t devolve into irrelevant tangents is incredibly important. Good planning will save the group headaches further down the track. Below you’ll find a sample template that sets out the type of information that should feature on your meeting agenda.
Image 1: Meeting Agenda Template
Some things to keep in mind when developing and disseminating your agenda: - Have you emailed the agenda to attendees well ahead of time? - Do you want the meeting to be accessible remotely? If so, have you communicated the relevant info necessary to individuals attending the meeting remotely? - Are the contact details up-to-date for all members? Have you ensured all emails are flagged as a high priority, with a return receipt and/or delivery status notification?
During the meeting
To ensure a productive meeting do the following: 1) Ask attendees to put away mobile devices 2) Set up a space for mobile devices 3) Give a chance for everyone to contribute 4) Stick to the agenda 5) Capture the output – minutes of meetings, image captures, etc. 6) Identify follow up tasks and due dates
Relating to point three, if you want to bring out quieter member out of their shells, try these three questions:
1) What are you working on at the moment? 2) What have you observed/learned about the process of doing that? 3) What do you need help with/ How insights can the other members give you regarding your business?
The facilitator needs to run a tight ship otherwise you will notice that certain members will dominate the conversation, monopolise attention to focus on supporting themselves, other members will grow increasingly frustrated and members will eventually leave the group entirely as they will fail to see the benefit of being a member.
Assuming all has gone well, appoint an individual to send an email to all the other participants and attach the relevant minutes of meetings, schedule of facilitators, etc. this email might read like this:
A quick note to say thank you for your participation in our [meeting number] mastermind meeting yesterday. It was [how it went] and I think we got some great, actionable takeaways from the meeting including:
[takeaway one, two, three, etc]
Again, thanks for your participation.
Always ensure that members have an updated list of contact information of group members so that everyone can be kept in the loop regarding any changes to meetings. In addition to this, you may want to consider additional options, for example, an online drive or online chat facility for relevant discussions between scheduled meetings.
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In this post explored the subject of mastermind groups. We know now that it isn’t a weird combo of Masterchef and a game show. We’ve learned its links to the self-help and business development sectors. We’ve seen how it can benefit individuals and businesses, especially sole proprietorships. We’ve seen how some consider it has sketchy origins, but we aren’t going to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It may just be the added oomph you need for your business.
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Novak, M. 2016, “The Untold Story Of Napoleon Hill, The Greatest Self-Help Scammer Of All Time”, Gizmodo, viewed 20 April 2019, https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2016/12/the-untold-story-of-napoleon-hill-the-greatest-self-help-scammer-of-all-time/
Schmidt, F. 2012, “Business sense: Benefits of mastermind groups”. Maryland Gazette, viewed 20 April 2019, https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/docview/1263800658?accountid=14205